How to Create a Remote Work Policy For Your Accounting Team During the COVID-19 Crisis | Hacker Noon

June 12th 2020

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The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the world to a standstill. With over 5 million global cases and counting, the medical professionals from all over the world have joined hands to find a vaccine. However, until that happens, the only precaution that can be taken is to stay at home.

Talking about the global business scenario, even the large conglomerates are trying to steady their ship in the market. The best solution to continue the business operations at these testing times is to ask the employees to work from their homes. Although remote working is not a new concept for companies, no one was ready to implement it at such a large scale.

Hence, every company is trying their best to implement a work-from-home policy without affecting the productivity of the employees. If you are one of the decision-makers responsible for drafting a remote work policy for your accounting team, here are some critical aspects you should include in it.

1. Establish Fixed Schedules

Before drafting a remote work policy, you should identify the schedule of all the employees and their locations. Some of your accounting team members might have moved to different locations (different time zones)
before the lockdown. Also, as work-from-home brings a level of flexibility with it, every individual wants to work on his/her own time.

Hence, it essential to include clear instructions to the employees about maintaining a fixed schedule.

I understand that the employees should be given some leeway when working from home is concerned, especially during the pandemic. However, there should be a little time segment during the day where the accounting team can collaborate on projects, as well as share information and insights.

2. Assign Time For Meetings

Nobody can deny the importance of meetings in an office environment. Whether it is a one-on-one meeting with the manager or a team discussion, regular meetings are scheduled to facilitate the flow of ideas and opinions.

To make these meetings possible when the employees are working remotely, your policy must include specific duration and timings of online meetings. The option to change or cancel the meeting can be given to the
managers.

3. Overtime Policy/ Timings and Payments

Working from home offers an added level of comfort to the employees. It sometimes extinguishes the divide between professional and personal life. The accountants sometimes get confused about the number of working hours and office timings when working remotely.

Hence, it is essential for you to mention the overtime rules in the remote work policy. What I am implying is the accountant should be paid accordingly if he/she is willing to work extra hours, even in these times of
crisis. Moreover, any change in compensations and timings should also be
mentioned clearly in the remote work policy. 

4. Provisioning of The Required Tools

Work from home is a boon for most employees. However, there might be many who do not have the right inventory to work from out of office. For instance, in the office, the employees might use high-end computers to
accomplish all the tasks.

It is highly unlikely for them to have such expensive systems in their houses. Moreover, they might not have an adequate internet connection or software installed in their home systems.

Since the entire accounting team has no other option than no work from their homes, it is your responsibility to devise a compensation policy to provide them with the right equipment. You should put in reimbursements in the policy for internet services.

5. Tech Support Guidelines

Tech support is another major issue when it comes to working remotely as an accountant. Whether in the office or at home, everyone needs technical
assistance at some point in time. Under normal circumstances, your IT team is present right there with you in the office. Your accounting team an contact them whenever required.

However, during the COVID-19 crisis, even the IT team is working remotely, which makes it tough to provide support. Hence, you should define clear guidelines and procedures for the accountants to contact tech support. You would not want any issue to hamper the productivity of accountants.

Hence, a clear communication channel and a plan of action should
be deployed, so the issues are resolved in time.

6. Privacy Policy

The accounting team has access to some of the most confidential financial data of a company. Any exposure of this data to the competitors or public can prove to be very costly. In the office, there are several security measures and access controls, which ensures that no critical data leaves the office network.

However, when working from home, it becomes challenging to
secure accounting data. Although an accountant may not intentionally cause a data breach, he/she might be accessing the data through an unsecured network. Moreover, if the same device used for office work is used for personal work, the accounting data can be accidentally deleted or corrupted.

To counter these challenges, every organization should draft a privacy policy that specifies the dos and don’ts of accessing the accounting data remotely. It should also mention the best practices of working from home,
one of which may be to use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) for office work.

7. Define KPIs

It is a common practice to evaluate the performance of accountants in the office through metrics like KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). However,
while working remotely, it is essential that the performance of each employee is re-evaluated while taking into consideration the current situation.

You can take the help of software like Asana, Trello, and Hubstaff to keep track of the employee’s productivity.

Be Flexible

Hence, I would suggest you to be flexible in implementing the remote work policy as everyone is new to this, and you might need to alter a few parameters as the COVID situation turn up.

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